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Burn Notice: The End Game by Tod Goldberg
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Signet Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451226761
Date: 05 May 2009 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Have you ever been burned? Well, so has career spy Michael Westin, except for him, being burned means that he is no longer a spy and cannot leave his home town of Miami. Without being a spy anymore, Michael earns his "honest income" by helping people get out of trouble. Based on the USA Network TV show, Burn Notice: The End Game, by Tod Goldberg is as fun to read as the TV show is to watch.

The book Burn Notice: The End Game, by Tod Goldberg is based on the USA Network TV series Burn Notice. The story reads like an episode of the TV show, but that is a good thing because both are great. The novel is action-packed and a quick read. It's also lots of fun.

In the story, Michael Westen is a spy who was issued a burn notice, meaning he lost his status as a spy and that his movements are alternately watched and ignored by the FBI. He is safe as long as he stays in him hometown of Miami, and while he is searching for the source of his burn notice, he supports himself by doing small "jobs". Generally, Michael comes in to help when a person is being blackmailed, or threatened, or followed; you get the idea. Michael's friend Sam Axe, who is a former Navy Seal, helps Michael find many of these jobs, and is able to help with research through immense computer skills and a network of contacts. Michael's on-and-off-again girlfriend, Fiona, is a former IRA operative who helps also. Sometimes she helps with her marksmanship expertise and sometimes, she uses her feminine wiles to flirt information out of people.

This particular story combines the romance of the ultra-rich world of yacht racing and a blackmail operation. Gennaro Stefania is the helmsman of the Ottone family's yacht racing team. The Ottones are part of the planet's super rich. Maria, Gennaro's wife, is the heiress and is being held hostage with their daughter on a boat sailing from Italy to Miami to watch Genarro in the upcoming race. Gennaro is being blackmailed that he must lose the race or his wife and daughter will die. It is a complicated operation, because the wife and daughter are aboard an Ottone family boat, sailing as they always do, and do not even know they are in danger. Michael Westen and his team need to find out who the blackmailer is and fix the problem.

The story is told in narrative style, the same as the TV show. It is Michael Westen speaking and told with a lot of dead pan humor. I love it. He talks about what is like to be a spy and do your job and how it is not at all like the movies. At times, he talks in spy code which I found very amusing. For example, working at the "post office" meant that you worked by disseminating propaganda and doing incursions into foreign countries.

Jeffrey Donovan, who plays Michael Westen, is very believable in his character. He is young, smart and athletic which seems good for a spy. Sam the Seal, played by Bruce Campbell, is a bit of a stretch, but the book does say that he is "soft around the edges" but still is able to use his contacts and do some great work. I can buy that as a character.

Fiona, played by Gabrielle Anwar, is another story. I know that TV is visual and that Gabrielle is there partly for her looks and for ratings, but she is so thin that she looks like one of the models who passes out on the runway because she has not eaten in two weeks. I really question her physical ability to handle high-powered rifles for the IRA.

All the TV casting aside, though it does affect how I "see" the written characters, I love the TV show and I loved Burn Notice: The End Game. I highly recommend both.

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